Aarrr Jim Lad!

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 rules for pirate warfare!

by Jeff Herbert


Aarrr Jim Lad, is a set of Rule outlines and scenario for skirmish games involving Pirates. The game is intended for play with larger models such as 25mm as these are more photographic. The reason for this will become apparent.  I have written the scenario based on that most frequently thought of when thinking of pirates. 


The scenario has many variations making the game suitable for re-playing, no two games will be exactly a like.  For the game you will need one model ship, a rowing boat, an Island , seven graphical features and some pirates.  Any number will do but for arguments sake lets say fifty pirates.  Each pirate should be painted uniquely, given a name and then digitally photographed and printed as a card.  A number of the pirates must be titled Important Pirates. These represent the various leaders of clichés that exist aboard their ship.  The Captain is the most important of all and holds a coveted position.


The Captain is removed from the character card deck and each player draws a Black Spot Card.  The player with the Black spot is the Captain and places the Captain card face up in front of him. The other players each get an Important Pirate Card. These are shuffled together with an equal number of other Important Pirate Cards. The Captain may look and have a list of all these IPC’s. The other players are all dealt one card each and place them face down, the remaining five cards are not revealed and are shuffled back into the pirate deck.  The Captain knows that you cannot please, “All the pirates All the Time” but is unsure as to which of the scumbags will rise against him.  Each player is now dealt five other pirate cards.  The Captain places two cards face up and three cards face down.  The first two represent Pirates that the rest of the crew know for sure to be his henchmen or toadies.  The other players place their cards face down but separate from their Important Pirate. 


The Captain has a treasure map, which he draws from the Treasure Map deck.  There are seven treasure map cards: The Cave; Skull Mountain; Old Tree; Black Rock; Windy Hill; Devil’s Hole; and Waterfall.  All the Captain has got to do is go to the location on the card, dig up the treasure and get back to the ship, easy!  Of course this is what the other players must do as well. The player in possession of the Treasure and the Ship is the winner.  The Ship must be guarded by at least three pirates at all times.  The Captain selects these and may appoint his own figures for this important task.  The Captain then throws a D6 and must set this number of tasks at least but may set more than the dice roll up to the number listed.  The tasks are in line with the Dice number thrown,


1.          Look Out Party,                     

2.          Water Party,

3.          Fresh Fruit Party,

4.          Fresh Meat Party,

5.          Wood Party,

6.          Rowing Boat Guard Party.  


In order to guard the rowboat the Captain must Tell Off all the other Parties.  The Look out Party must go to Look Out Point, The Water Party to Freshwater Cove, they may take the rowing boat if this is not guarded, The Fresh Fruit Party must go to Banana Wood, the Fresh Meat Party to Goat Hill, The Wood Party to The Beach where they can collect driftwood.  The Rowing Boat Party stay with the Rowing Boat.  The Captain selects which Pirates are in each Party.  A part from the Ship party all the other Parties are assembled on the Beach.  The Captain allots each Party to a Player for movement of the figures only.  It doesn’t matter if a player has nothing to move at this stage.  Play then commences and each player takes a card from the Play Deck.  These Cards allow an Important Pirate Player to strengthen his hand.


The Play Deck Cards are as follows.


Aaah Jim Lad x 2, these cards may be played at any time up until the deck is reshuffled.  These cards allow a player to select any card of any player and see it. If he wishes he may then place it face up or allow it to remain concealed.


The Parrot x 1, this card must be played when drawn and causes the pack to be reshuffled. All cards being held must be played or discarded at once.


Rum x 1, this card is played on an individual figure or any group except the Captain’s, unless played by the Captain himself for some strange reason.  The Figure or group is stopped and does not move unless a 6 is thrown.  The Captain or other Important Pirate Player playing this card on the group he is with need not be affected.


Trap x 4, these cards are deadly traps set by the pirate that buried the treasure. They may only be played on the lead figure of any group.  The Captain can only play it on the Treasure Party.


Pirate Aligns x 2, these cards allow the drawer to take another Pirate Character Card and place it in his deck.


Blanks x 8, these have no special action.


Make Haste x 2, the player may make a double move with his Important Pirate or any group with the Important pirate. In doing so he reveals the IPC.


Abandon Task x 2, if a players IP is with any group he may abandon the Task but must reveal himself if he has not yet done so.  He may make all or part of the group carry on with the task or may make all, or part of the group, abandon the task.


Marooned Pirate x 1, this card is played only once. It represents a Marooned Pirate and is moved by that Player.


Treacherous Act x 2, an IP who is revealed or who must instantly reveal himself kills the pirate immediately closest to his figure.  Only another IP may defend, saves on a D6 score of 4, 5, 6.  Combat then takes place or both IP’s agree to back off.   


Empty Chest x 1, this is played on the treasure party at the time the treasure chest is found.  The chest is empty except for a second map.  The player who is in charge of the treasure party draws a new Treasure Map Card.  The old card is reshuffled back into the deck.


Dead Man’s Chest x 1, this is played on the Treasure Party any time from the moment it starts digging until the chest is opened.  The diggers find a set of bones with a cutlass through the torso.  They refuse to dig further fearing bad luck.  The Captain must shoot at one of them to retain control.


Them That Dies x 1, this is a card that lets loose a cry for general havoc.  It can only be played by an IP who eliminates one Pirate within 2”.  He must reveal his IP card and any of his other Pirates in the Group. A general melee proceeds.  The other players may reveal their own pirates and fight back or run away. Non-aligned Pirates fight back on a 1,2 or 3 and align with the IP on a 4,5 or 6.  Those that fight back are taken as being loyal to the Captain and can be moved by him.


Yo Ho Ho x 1, this may be played on the rowboat party.  Feeling hot they get back into the rowboat and go back to the ship for some grog.


When Eight Bells Toll x 1, this is played on the ships party. They immediately abandon the watch and start hitting the grog.  If the player with this card so wishes he may reveal any or all his pirates currently onboard and dice for each one except his IP.  On a 4, 5, 6 they refrain from drinking, too much, and remain fit for action.  Throw a 2 x D6 and this is the amount of moves before the others fall down drunk.  The card player if any of his own men are fit may then throw the drunks overboard.  If not throw 4 x D6 and this is the number of moves before they wake up with headaches.


Are You with Me x 1, this card may only be played by an IP.  Any other Players characters must be revealed.  Any other non-aligned Pirates now belong to that player on a throw of 4, 5, 6.  The other non-aligned pirates may be left or meleed with.  They are now loyal to the Captain and come under his control. If any other player draws a character card of such an aligned Pirate in the future he must hand it over and draw another. (If there are a lot to remember take them out of the pack immediately and reshuffle).  


Barrel of Fun x 1, this may be played by any of, a player’s, pirates, who must be revealed.  Light the barrel and roll it into a group of pirates and shout, thar she blows.  The barrel can roll for 1xd6 of inches.  The roller may flee for 2xd6 of inches and every other pirate for 1 D6.  Any pirate now within 4 inches is dead, any within 5 inches get a red wound any within 6 inches a yellow wound.


Har Me Hearty x 4, may be played on any pirate who is about to shoot. The gun misfires or jams for that move only.


The Black Spot x 1, discard for good after playing.  May be played on any pirate other than a revealed IP.  That pirate has been nominated to kill the Captain or the Pirate who now has assumed that role. That pirate immediately goes to attack the Captain who may defend. 


Shiver Me Timbers x 1, this may be played on any pirate except an IP within 12 inches of the IP who plays it. On a 4, 5 or 6 that pirate will align with the IP. If already aligned the other player must hand his card over.


These cards may be added to if you can think up any others. 


Players must try to complete their assigned tasks unless cards allow them to break them. The player must move the pirates to the task location and throw a 6 on a D6 during his turn to complete the set task.  On completing the task the party must return to the rowboat/beach and dump their goodies.  The IP may then go anywhere but may only take Pirates aligned with him.


The treasure party on reaching the feature on the Treasure Map starts to dig.  If at the right location the chest is found on the treasure party player throwing a 6 on a D6.


For those wishing even more murder and mayhem you may introduce cannibals into the game.  This again should be by way of a card played on a group of pirates. 




Any set of skirmish rules can be used or the simple set that I append here.




Shuffle the Black Spot Deck. Deal each player a card. Player with Blackspot goes first or passes the Blackspot to the player to his left who must then move first.  Play proceeds clockwise.


The First Player draws a card from the Play Deck and either uses it or keeps it.  Most cards can be used at any time including during another player’s turn.


The First Player then moves his troops and resovles any fighting.


This is repeated until all the players have done the same.


RESHUFFLE THE BLACKSPOT DECK AND START AGAIN.  The game finishes when a player has got the chest back on board the ship and there is no further opposition to stop him. 




Each pirate or party moves 2 x D6 of inches in good terrain or 1 x D6 in bad terrain or on board ship.  All movement on board ship is individual and a group move is only allowed if no fighting is to be instigated.  A pirate who is wounded only throws 1xD6, deducting –1 for a yellow wound and –2 for a red wound. A pirate with a wound dices each turn he moves. On a 1 the yellow wound upgrades to red and a red wound upgrades to death.




This takes place after movement. A pistol has a range of 6”, a blunderbuss 12” and a musket 20”.  A cannon has unlimited range. To fire the target must be in sight but may be in cover.  To hit throw a D6 for pistols, D12 for blunderbuss and a D20 for Muskets.  The dice score must be equal or less than the distance in inches currently from the target.


Add +1 to the dice score for each and any of the following.

Target moved.

Firer moved.

Target in cover.

Firer is wounded.


Blunderbusses will hit any figure in its spread pattern up to 12”.  Any figure up to 6” receives a fatal wound on a 1 or 2, a red wound on 3 or 4, and a yellow wound on a 5 or 6.  When fired at over 6” the fatal wound becomes a miss. 


Muskets and pistols are resolved as per the blunderbuss firing at 6” or under.


When a cannon is fired place the cannon ball stick with a 2” sleeve over the figure you are aiming at and throw a D6. On a 1 move the sleeve towards the gone by 4 inches, on a 2 by 2 inches, on a 3 or 4 do not move the sleeve and on a 5 or 6 increase by 2 and 4 inches respectively.  Grape can be fire up to 18”, for this use a spread template and dice for any figure in the template area. Score 1 or 2 dead, 3 or 4 red wound, 5 yellow wound and 6 survives.


It takes a move standing still to reload a pistol, blunderbuss or musket. It takes three figures two moves to reload a cannon. Two figures, four moves and one figure six moves.  All the cannon on the ship start loaded with ball.  Grape may be loaded on top of the ball but takes a move to do so.




The Figure of the moving player is the attacker, the figure it is attacking the defender.

Weapons have different Attack and Defence values.


Attack Defence


3 2
Sword 3 3
Pistol Butt 1 0
Clubbed Musket 2 1
Axe 4 1
Half Pike 3 1
Stave 1 2
Dagger 2 1

To fight with Pistol or dagger the opposing figures must be in base contact, with all other weapons except half pike within 1” and with half pike within 2”.

Weapons outside their reach can defend but not inflict casualty in defence.  Weapons outside their reach cannot attack. 


Up to 3 figures can melee against a single figure. A figure that is out numbered counts a minus 1 or 2 accordingly and fights three times.


To fight each figure throws a D6 and adds to the score the weapon factor. It then applies any other additions or deductions.  The figure with the higher score wins. On a difference of 1 or 2 a yellow wound is inflicted, 3 or 4 a red wound and on greater death.




-1 or 2, outnumbered.

-1 or 2, yellow or red wound.

+/- for special figure characteristic.   



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